For the KBO’s best hitter, Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom), 2023 has been a bit of a downer. He struggled with his hitting at the beginning of the season, and after his hitting picked up, he suffered some pretty big injuries.
For me personally, 2023 was a year with a lot of goals. First of all, I decided to challenge the major leagues through the posting system (closed competitive bidding) after this season. Many teams have been following his progress for four or five years. It is expected to be the biggest box office success in the history of posting Korean players. For Lee, this season was his final showcase before heading to the major leagues.
It wasn’t just a personal honor, either. In pre-season camp, Lee said he was going to put the idea of reaching the major leagues on the back burner. First and foremost, he was determined to help his team Kiwoom challenge for a major championship this year. Last year, the team finished as runners-up in the Korean Series, so his desire was even stronger. As it was my last season before going to the major leagues, I wanted to leave with good memories, a good performance, and a smile on my face.
But an unexpected ankle injury threatened to derail much of that. Of course, the scouting reports have already piled up. It’s unlikely that the injury will be a major setback for him, but it’s a missed opportunity to show that he’s made up for his shortcomings. Kiwoom is also drifting due to Lee’s injury and the poor performance of their main players. As of Aug. 28, they are 47-69-3 (.405), last in the league. They have effectively given up on the postseason. At this point, this is the most painful part.
Despite the early season slump, Kiwoom never let the season slip away. However, the sudden change in stance could be linked to Lee’s injury in late July. Lee is expected to take three months to rehabilitate, and if the original reports are to be believed, he is unlikely to return in time for the season. Kiwoom, realizing that it would be difficult to perform well without him, boldly looked to the future. In doing so, Lee has grown into a player who is crucial to the team’s short-, medium-, and long-term strategy.
With his participation in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games now in doubt, Major League Baseball’s interest in Lee hasn’t waned. A number of clubs have reportedly completed their final evaluations of Lee. Big-market clubs representing the major leagues are also reportedly reviewing the market situation. It’s not hard to find Lee’s name in the local media now. He is tied to the 2023-2024 transfer market class. There is a general consensus in the local media that he is a ‘top 30’ player.
The New York Yankees, one of Major League Baseball’s most prestigious franchises, are in the midst of their worst slump of the season, and Lee’s name has been thrown into the mix. The New York Post, the largest local media outlet, covered the team’s expected move for outfielder Harrison Vader on July 27. The Post mentioned Lee’s name as one of the outfield targets.
Vader, who debuted for St. Louis in 2017 and was traded to the New York Yankees in 2022, is an outfielder who plays with passion. His defense has always been well-regarded. He won a Gold Glove in 2021. However, his offense has been up and down this year. Through 28 days and 80 games, he’s batting just .246 with an OPS of .661. Vader is eligible for free agency at the end of the year, and it’s unclear if the Yankees will pursue him.
Without Vader, the team will need a new outfielder. “If the Yankees decide not to bring Vader back, the outfield in free agency isn’t exactly filled with alternatives,” said the New York Post, “Left fielder Cody Bellinger resurrected his career with the Cubs this year. He’s expected to be a big draw. Other options include Korean star Jung-Hoo Lee, veteran Kevin Kiermaier, and Michael Taylor, who is expected to arrive in the offseason.
In reality, this year’s free agency market is not full of quality outfielders. In fact, there are fewer than usual. Major League Baseball Trade Rumors also noted that “this year’s free agent class is dominated by starting pitchers. Few impact hitters are expected,” and “Assuming Lee’s ankle recovers and he’s posted on schedule, he’ll still attract plenty of interest.먹튀검증
The Yankees need to do something. After spending so much money, they’ve been humiliated this year. As of Aug. 28, they’re 62-68 (.477) on the season, with no winning percentage and in last place in the American League East. Their chances of making the postseason are now less than 5%. The immediate question is whether manager Aaron Boone will stay. Something needs to be done to appease the angry fans, and if they don’t get Vader, they need to get an outfielder. The Yankees don’t have much depth in the outfield. In theory, they could be interested in Lee, and scouts have been watching him for a while.